Christmas Week Day - Saturday

January 6, 2018 / By: Jacob Cunningham

1 Jn 5:5-13/Mk 1:7-11 or Lk 3:23-38 or 3:23, 31-34, 36, 38

It is January 6th and the students in VISION are again headed out around the globe. They will be graciously invited in by our community partners and given a chance to work shoulder to shoulder learning how to build healthy communities. They will work on permaculture farms in both Puerto Rico and California. Be a part of the Catholic Mission in San Lucas Toliman in Guatemala and learn from their peers at the Unidad Academica Campesina-Carmen Pampa in rural Bolivia. I have coordinated the VISION program for 16 years and watching our students go always inspires me.

The Psalm for today reads

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.

I imagine the Psalm writer, living in a dangerous world, felt that it would be a blessing to have God’s protection and would draw some relief from the image of God making the bars of the gates very strong.  It reminds me a little of all the political talk these days of building walls. 

But when I watch the students leave on our community building programs it occurs to me that God just, might be up to something else. The sites VISION goes to are chosen because they are amazing examples of what community can look like.  Our students get to participate for a brief time in the life of these communities.  Year after year, when they return home I see a change in our students- A larger heart and a greater sense of hope. 

These young people I am so blessed to work with in the VISION program are the gates made stronger.  Not gates to keep people out but a group of young people holding strong against things like hate, bigotry and fear. In this Christmas season my hope is that we are all made more whole through the coming of God into the world.  In this new year may we all look for opportunities to be the strong and open gates our world needs.

Please keep these students and the communities we visit in your prayers this January.

Jacob Cunningham
Director, Office for Service and Social Justice